Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Women's Work

The rhetoric of the antisubject now preoccupies the largely male aesthetes' wing of what I insist on calling pop--shadowy DJs and pseudonymous collectives mixmastering aural wallpaper from digital sound manipulators. But in 1996 more than ever, it was women engaged by the human struggle of subject construction who came up with striking and durable music, usually in formally received guises: unexpected 37-year-old singer-songwriter Amy Rigby, or such punks manqué as Bikini Kill's Kathleen Hanna, Fluffy's Amanda Rootes, and Sleater-Kinney's Corin Tucker. And to remind us that the worthiest social tendency exacts its social cost, we also got the awestruck self-regard of unexpected 22-year-old singer-songwriter Jewel and the kitchen-sink ska manqué of No Doubt's Gwen Stefani.

Artforum, 1997